Last year saw various forced transformations reshaping elements of the marketing landscape, and one of the biggest learnings from 2020 is that brands have to rethink how they connect with customers. It has become more important than ever to take the time to understand what is changing and why, so that your brand doesn’t miss the opportunity to build stronger customer-brand relationships.
But when you’re looking for the next new thing, don’t forget to look at what has worked in the past. Because in trying times, people seek comfort in the familiar. Last year saw a renewed interest in some old-school marketing formats like newsletters. In fact, newsletter mentions were up 14% in 2020, and despite emails being around since the 70s – this format is still a conversion-rich and cost-effective way to share useful content in a hyper-personalised manner.
Statista reports that the number of global email users amounted to 3.9 billion in 2019, and this number is set to grow to 4.48 billion users in 2024. More users mean more emails, and Statista projects the number of daily emails, sent and received every day worldwide, to increase to over 347 billion daily emails in 2023.
That is a lot of noise to break through, especially considering that brands are no longer just competing with others in their vertical, but also with every other brand fighting for space in a consumer’s inbox.
Email newsletters are easy-to-consume pieces of content that conveniently end up in a subscriber’s inbox, and offer a more intimate way to stay in touch, making it a perfect channel to build stronger customer-brand relationships.
An email newsletter is free (or inexpensive), easy to set up, and it is 40 times more effective in acquiring new customers when compared to social media. According to a cross-industry study by Mailchimp, the average email open rate is 21.33%. Not bad when you consider that organic reach across Facebook these days is only 5.5%. Mailchimp also found that big and small businesses saw an increase in email newsletter engagement last year.
Email newsletters give you a certain amount of control and ownership that you don’t have on other platforms. A lot of what we do online these days is out of our control; built a massive following on Instagram? It is not your platform. So you are constantly running the risk of losing your business’ presence overnight. But when you start an email newsletter, you can “own” a contact list of potential customers.
A key thing about great communication is reaching your audience at the right time – when they are most receptive. A helpful tool for this is Send-Time Optimisation (STO) which several email service providers offer. This allows you to send an email at a time based on past subscriber activity and requires subscriber-level data tracking. The problem is that many senders use the same tactic, which increases the chance that your email delivers at the same time as other senders.
So to take the guesswork out of STO, Verizon launched their View Time Optimisation (VTO) tool last year. This nifty piece of tech means an email is delivered when a subscriber actively engages with their mailbox. It also ensures that an email appears close to the top of the inbox to improve the sender’s open rate.
It is no wonder that email senders who have employed VTO with their email campaigns saw a significant increase in open rate. VTO is ideal because email subscribers check their inbox several times per day, providing multiple opportunities to place senders’ emails at the top of their message list.
Personalisation is crucial. It takes your email from boring to outstanding and has been proven to drive much higher transactional rates. Popular email marketing services like Mailchimp allow senders to personalise emails, but this personalisation goes beyond using a subscriber’s name in the email or subject line. Think segmentation. This helps to create content that is relevant to the subscriber’s interests, shopping habits, or customer journey.
Email automation software programs can help you to send suitable content to your subscribers based on where they are in the buying cycle. These behaviour-based triggers can make subscribers feel like the content you sent is made specifically for them.
Personalisation can also come through in the design of emails. Many predict that 2021 is the year the simple, plain-text email will make a comeback because it echoes “real” emails. It looks like something you would receive from a friend or family member. This makes it a great way to create something more personal that will redefine your consumer-brand relationships.
Email is alive and well and is increasingly relevant. Convenient content like newsletters can help brands connect more deeply with customers because you are not just connecting with your customers – you are building a relationship by using a more intimate way to stay in touch.
While we can’t predict what the future will look like, we know that things will not go back to the way they were; marketers will need to stay on top of trends and commit to bold changes in strategy to survive.
List of references:
Facebook Statistics [online] Available at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/facebook-statistics/
How Effective Are Email Newsletters for Marketing a Business? [online] Available at: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/resources/knowledge-base/how-effective-are-email-newsletters-for-marketing-a-business/
How to Integrate Email and Social Media for Highly Effective Marketing [online] Available at: https://www.fool.com/the-blueprint/email-marketing-vs-social-media/
Mailchimp’s COVID‑19 Email Marketing Trends [online] Available at: https://mailchimp.com/resources/covid19-coronavirus-marketing-trends-report/
Email Marketing Benchmarks and Statistics by Industry [online] Available at: https://mailchimp.com/resources/email-marketing-benchmarks/
The rise of the plain-text email newsletter [online] Available at: https://www.niemanlab.org/2020/12/the-rise-of-the-plain-text-email-newsletter/
The evolution of email marketing [online] Available at: https://www.smartinsights.com/email-marketing/email-communications-strategy/email-marketing-evolution/
Number of e-mail users worldwide from 2017 to 2024 [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/255080/number-of-e-mail-users-worldwide/
2021 Social Media Trends [online] Available at: https://www.talkwalker.com/resource/report/social-trends-talkwalker-final.pdf